HomesecurityPersonalization vs Privacy: How to protect your personal data?

Personalization vs Privacy: How to protect your personal data?

Personalization provides to various platforms the ability to suggest to users content that suits their tastes. This does offer a better user experience, but at the same time it poses the greatest threat to privacy as more personal data is collected than you think.

Everyone who uses it Netflix or the Hulu they have found a TV show or a movie suggested by the platform algorithm that perfectly suits their taste. Similarly, the Spotify and Deezer provide weekly playlists of new music suggestions to each user based on their listening history. The Facebook, Instagram, the YouTube and other popular platforms offer users personalized ads based on each other's interests, as reflected in the use of these platforms by users. The same goes for any other platform streaming or social media. This personalization guarantees users a better experience.

However, what users may not be aware of is the volume of their personal data collected by these platforms to present them with such highly personalized proposals. This poses a risk to privacy. Even more important is the fear of malicious agents seizing this data and turning innocent users into victims of criminal and "fraudulent" activities.

Streaming and social media platforms pose more privacy risks than you can imagine
It should not be overlooked that these large companies offering such services to the public have fallen victim to multiple cyber attacks and data breaches. This puts users' personal data even more at risk.

For example, the Twitter recently suffered infringement which resulted in attackers gaining access to high-profile user accounts such as Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Kanye West. The invaders used social engineering to carry out Phishing attacks on some of their employees.

In addition, at the end of 2019, ie immediately after its release, Disney + suffered a data breach, which allowed intruders to steal information from thousands of accounts and sell it on the dark web. Apparently, more than one in 10 users of the streaming platform have had their accounts compromised.

Obviously, cybercriminals will not stop attacking, and while they may not target individual users, they can easily target media platforms to gain access to personal files.

Personalization vs Privacy: How to protect your personal data?

There are two necessary security measures that users of such platforms must take:

  • Protect their accounts from direct attacks (via password security, personal VPN, multi-factor authentication, etc.)
  • To limit the volume of personal data that they knowingly or unknowingly provide to them.
Personalization vs Privacy: How to protect your personal data?

How can you protect your data and privacy from personalization?
In recent years, one of the most important regulations regarding the use of consumers' personal data by the media is the GDPR, which forced platforms that collect personal data of their users for the ethical use of such data, the full disclosure of data use and greater cybersecurity to protect consumer data.

The GDPR is largely in favor of the consumer. It argues that users should expressly consent or at least be informed by data collection companies of the following:

  • Automated individual decision making (decision making exclusively by automated means without human involvement). and
  • Profiles (automated processing of personal data to evaluate specific things for an individual). Creating a profile can be part of an automated decision-making process.

To protect your data from personalization on media platforms, you must first determine the level of risk involved in your use, and this begins with finding the types of (personal) data that these media companies collect through their users and how use the data.

Under the provisions of the GDPR, media platforms now have options for users to receive all their data from the moment they start using the platform. This gives users insight into how much information the platform knows about them.
If you are not comfortable with your data collection, you can also choose to close your account and delete your data from the platform database forever. However, if you do not want to take such a big step, you can change the data collection and use the options available on the platform.

For example, deleting the viewing history on Netflix or YouTube prevents the platform from displaying personalization-based suggestions. Similarly, social media platforms provide many options regarding data control and privacy.

Therefore, it is important to explore these options on each platform in order to determine what personal data each platform may collect about you and how it might use it.

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